Japanese Officials Will Push Utility Company Aside to Deal With Spills of Radioactive Water

Nearly 2½ years after the Fukushima meltdowns, Japanese authorities say they will take the lead in containing tainted water. “We’ve allowed Tokyo Electric to deal with the contaminated water situation on its own and they’ve essentially turned it into a game of ‘Whack-a-Mole,’” Trade Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said today, referring to the utility that operated the Fukushima nuclear plant. “From now on, the government will move to the forefront.” The pledge came a week after a storage tank leaked 300 metric tons of highly radioactive water, the biggest setback at Fukushima since the earthquake and tsunami of 2011 caused reactors to melt down. The prime minister’s office said the government is drawing up “both emergency measures and more fundamental steps to eliminate the roots of the contaminated water problem.” Bloomberg

Climate change is compounding the problems for Detroit’s aging, flood-prone sewer system. It regularly sends raw sewage into the Detroit River during intense downpours. Such discharges can expose people who swim or paddle the river to disease-causing bacteria and viruses. The Detroit River also links the upper and lower Great Lakes, so its contamination affects the health of the region’s entire watershed. There’s little question the region is already dealing with the impacts of a changing climate. Rain from heavy, flood-causing storms has jumped 45 percent across the Midwest the past five decades, according to federal scientists. Greenhouse gases increase the energy in the atmosphere and tend to concentrate storms. The Daily Climate

Extraction of oil and water from South Texas’ Eagle Ford Shale is probable cause of small quakes, study finds. The University of Texas study suggests the removal of oil and water allows rock and sand to settle, triggering tremors typically too weak to be noticed on the surface. Environmental groups have expressed concerns about a link between quakes and the fracking drilling technique. But the new study doesn’t find much evidence that fracking is causing earthquakes by itself. Rather, it appears to result from the scale at which oil is being removed. The Eagle Ford findings contrast with a study of quakes in North Texas’ Barnett Shale by the same authors. The earlier study cited wastewater injection wells as the likely culprit. The Wall Street Journal, San Antonio Express-News

Maryland officials withdraw a proposed regulation aimed at reducing farm runoff polluting the Chesapeake Bay. The move came after chicken growers warned it could cripple the state’s lucrative poultry industry if imposed now. The state Department of Agriculture announced it withdrew its request to change rules governing where farmers may use chicken manure to fertilize crops, two days before a scheduled legislative hearing on the plan. The rules, which would have taken effect this fall, would be put off until next year at the earliest. As FairWarning has reported, manure from factory farms is a major source of water pollution but U.S. authorities have been frustrated in their efforts to regulate the problem. The Baltimore Sun

Ohio Home Depot store accused of eight safety violations. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration charges against a Reynoldsburg, Ohio, store included seven repeat violations of problems that inspectors cited at other Home Depot sites from 2010 to 2012. OSHA, which is proposing fines of $150,700, said the Reynoldsburg store exposed workers to 120 volts of electricity and had obstructed exit routes. “By failing to correct previously cited deficiencies, Home Depot continues to dismiss a culture of safety as a priority,” an OSHA official said. A company spokesman said all but two of the Reynoldsburg issues were resolved during the inspection and that Home Depot’s safety team “jumps all over problems if they see them.” OSHA, The Columbus Dispatch

Compiled by Stuart Silverstein

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